The Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor is the first in a series of novels that purports to be based on long lost Austen journals journals where, shockingly enough, Jane is revealed to have an aptitude for solving crimes Perhaps even shocking is how well the concept works in Barron s execution of the story Through novels like Pride and Prejudice and Emma, Austen revealed herself possess a masterful understanding of human nature and all its foibles, and this skill lends itself well to casting Austen as an unconventional investigator with a flair for understanding the criminal mind Since relatively little is known of Austen s life, there s plenty of opportunity for an Barron s imagination to fill in the gaps She grounds her stories in what little is known of Austen s life In the case of Scargrave Manor, the fact that Austen had once received and refused a proposal from a Harris Bigg Wither serves as the impetus that allows Barron to send Jane to the home of a beloved but entirely fictitious friend in order to recover Soon after her arrival, Jane finds herself embroiled in not one, but two cases of murder most foul, with her beloved friend Isobel standing accused of murdering her husband Isobel begs Jane to employ her acute powers of observation in order to discover the truth of the matter, and so the chase is on for Jane to discover the truth before Isobel is brought to trial before the House of Lords Barron s first novel featuring Jane Austen in the role of sleuth succeeds on all fronts it s an incredibly engaging, fast paced read, rich with historical detail supplemented by select footnotes which aid in giving credence to the assertion that the story is an edited journal Most enjoyable of all is the experience of seeing inside Jane Austen s head, albeit a fictitious Austen The story s prose is rich with the language and customs of the early nineteenth century, and it s an enjoyable escape to read a novel that pretends to flesh out the character of one of the most beloved, but mysterious, novelists of all time All in all it s a thoroughly enjoyable and absorbing read. This mystery started a bit slowly, but I quickly found it to be quite compelling Jane Austen is invited to spend the holidays with a dear friend who was lately married when a tragic death occurs It was soon discovered to be murder, and Jane s friend the Countess is accused of killing her much older husband of only three months The Countess charges Jane to discover the identity of the real murderer, and Jane discovers clue after clue which seemingly leads to greater confusion than greater clarity But in the end, Jane helps to unmask the real killer, solving not only the Earl s murder but also the murder of a young maid as well I enjoyed this fictitious portrayal of Jane Austen, a woman mired in genteel poverty who just refused the hand of a Mr Collins like suitor and escapes Bath and her family only to find herself at the center of a murder investigation Her keen observations, her quick wit, and her dogged determination make this mystery intriguing and compelling A wonderful read For Everyone Who Loves Jane Austena Marvelously Entertaining New Series That Turns The Incomparable Author Into An Extraordinary Sleuth On A Visit To The Estate Of Her Friend, The Young And Beautiful Isobel Payne, Countess Of Scargrave, Jane Bears Witness To A Tragedy Isobel S Husband A Gentleman Of Mature Years Is Felled By A Mysterious And Agonizing Ailment The Earl S Death Seems A Cruel Blow Of Fate For The Newly Married Isobel Yet The Bereaved Widow Soon Finds That It S Only The Beginning Of Her Misfortuneas She Receives A Sinister Missive Accusing Her And The Earl S Nephew Of Adultery And Murder Desperately Afraid That The Letter Will Expose Her To The Worst Sort Of Scandal, Isobel Begs Jane For Help And Jane Finds Herself Embroiled In A Perilous Investigation That Will Soon Have Her Following A Trail Of Clues That Leads All The Way To Newgate Prison And The House Of Lords A Trail That May Well Place Jane S Own Person In The Gravest Jeopardy Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor Jane Austen Mysteries 1 by Stephanie Barron is a 1996 Crimeline publication Although I am a big fan of Jane Austen, I have steadfastly avoided all novels that feature the author as a sleuth or any other sort of fictional character However, I picked one of these mysteries up at a library sale, thinking that for fifty cents I could at least give it a try As fate would have it, the book I picked up was the third book in the series Hoping against hope, I checked my overdrive library to see if any of the previous books were available, and was happy see that, indeed, they did have most of the books in the series So, thankfully, I was able to start at the beginning The story begins with the suggestion that some of Miss Austen s journals had been discovered and the editor here has published some the adventures Jane enjoyed by solving a mystery once in while during her lifetime This first book sees Jane looking to avoid local society after calling off her engagement Staying with her recently married friend Isobel, she learns that her friend married a much older man due to her father s debts, but is actually in love with her husband s nephew When the old Earl dies rather suddenly, the accusations of poisoning begin to swirl With Isobel s financial gain and her obvious love for another man, she could face a murder charge Can Jane find the truth before her friend is thrown in prison I admit to being skeptical about these types of mysteries, because I fear the stories will cast a much esteemed person, like Jane Austen, in a role that doesn t do them justice, or makes them look ridiculous But, I found myself enjoying the setting, imagining Jane in social situations with men, being a loyal friend, and coming to the rescue This is the first book in the series, and a little extra time was spent on the setup, but once the investigation got rolling, I was pleasantly surprised at how clever the plot was and how the author stuck to the strictures of the time period by using the first person accounting of events from Jane Austen herself, via her letters and journals The editor took time at the end of each chapter to expound upon certain laws or rules of society, making Jane s actions understandable, and words clearer These brief snippets of history were fun and interesting and I thought it was a nice touch Overall, I liked this story well enough to continue on with the series 4 stars I have found my new favorite British cozy mystery series To say that I absolutely loved this book is an understatement Jane Austen as an amateur detective, what s not to love The novel is a delight further for its historical accuracy and footnotes that educate the reader about Regency England What s cool to boot is that the author is American It is so great to find a series that combines my obsessions with Jane Austen and mysteries that is so well written I cannot wait to read all of the novels in the series I really enjoyed reading this book It was well written and fast paced, with lots of lovely Georgian detail about dress, manners, and events The footnotes explain some of the arcane terms I will probably end up reading all of these novels in which Jane Austen herself turns sleuth So, why the 3 star review In short, the character of Jane does not ring true with what is known of the real Jane s relatively quiet life In one scene, the reader is told that an assembly of the Lords was a once in a generation event surely, someone as unassuming as Jane would never have been present at an event like this without it coloring her writing Also, her reactions to the other characters in the book put some of them clearly in the Jane doesn t like category The Jane Austen that I ve read and loved might ve laughed at the foibles of those around her, but they would ultimately still be worthy of her Except, of course, her villains.If you forget this is supposed to be Jane s journal, it was a very satisfying mystery But if you were an English major Ponderous, cumbersome, slow witted This is not Miss Austen Barron has given it a go but, like most others, she has failed There were a couple of passages that almost showed an Austen like crispness amusement, but they were few far between The Jane Austen in these pages showed very little in the way of wit perspicacity None of the characters showed much merit, particularly Isobel ugh I have to agree with Kris review, except for the wanting to read the next one I ll have to think about that for a while. I read this after stumbling upon a later book in the series at a Friends of the Library 1 bag day of a book sale I was so stunned at how much I liked it that I had my library borrow this first book of the series for me and was not disappointed They re wonderful Being a big Jane Austen fan, I was very skeptical and feared it might rely too heavily on the gimmick of its premise or chafe my eyes with pretentious dialogue and failed attempts to mimic Miss A s wit, but I was pleased, if surprised, to find it committed neither sin These books are fun, well researched, intriguing, and well written I m prepared to devour the whole series and am glad to know it is a large one. This series of fictional mysteries solved by Jane Austen are charming and witty and a whole lot of fun for people who can t get enough Jane Austen You need a healthy dose of girl geekness to love these, but luckily I have plenty to spare Usually I dislike mysteries, but these have enough Austen flair to gloss over the fact that they re all whodunnits. love this book The idea of Jane Austen being a amateur detective is so cool
See this thread for information.Stephanie Barron was born Francine Stephanie Barron in Binghamton, NY in 1963, the last of six girls Her father was a retired general in the Air Force, her mother a beautiful woman who loved to dance The family spent their summers on Cape Cod, where two of the Barron girls now live with their families Francine s passion for Nantucket and the New England shoreline dates from her earliest memories She grew up in Washington, D.C., and attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, a two hundred year old Catholic school for girls that shares a wall with Georgetown University Her father died of a heart attack during her freshman year In 1981, she started college at Princeton one of the most formative experiences of her life There she fenced for the club varsity team and learned to write news stories for The Daily Princetonian a hobby that led to two part time jobs as a journalist for The Miami Herald and The San Jose Mercury News Francine majored in European History, studying Napoleonic France, and won an Arthur W Mellon Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities in her senior year But the course she remembers most vividly from her time at Princeton is The Literature of Fact, taught by John McPhee, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and staff writer for The New Yorker John influenced Francine s writing than even she knows and certainly than she is able to say If there were an altar erected to the man in Colorado, she d place offerings there daily He s her personal god of craft Francine spent three years at Stanford pursuing a doctorate in history she failed to write her dissertation on the Brazilian Bar Association under authoritarianism can you blame her and left with a Masters She applied to the CIA, spent a year temping in Northern Virginia while the FBI asked inconvenient questions of everyone she had ever known, passed a polygraph test on her twenty sixth birthday, and was immediately thrown into the Career Trainee program Boot Camp for the Agency s Best and Brightest Four years as an intelligence analyst at the CIA were profoundly fulfilling, the highlights being Francine s work on the Counterterrorism Center s investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and sleeping on a horsehair mattress in a Spectre era casino in the middle of Bratislava Another peak moment was her chance to debrief ex President George Bush in Houston in 1993 But what she remembers most about the place are the extraordinary intelligence and dedication of most of the staff many of them women many of whom cannot be named She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later Fifteen books have followed, along with sundry children, dogs, and houses When she s not writing, she likes to ski, garden, needlepoint, and buy art Her phone number is definitely unlisted.
- 352 pages
- Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor
- Stephanie Barron
- 14 November 2017 Stephanie Barron